This event has been canceled. Look for announcements of future events at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard.
ELMENDORF — “Delicious” has a whole new connotation.
Farm-to-table, locavore, eating local, sustainable and organic farming – all of these terms have been used increasingly in the past decade or more, indicating that what tastes good should also be good for you.
The commitment by farmers and other food producers to high-quality, sustainable growing practices for food that is robust in nutrition and flavor, has been at the heart of the locavore movement and adding a defining touch to fine dining.
This is not a simple effort, but a far-reaching philosophy that’s put down roots in every aspect of food production in farms throughout the United States as well as internationally. From site preparation to planting, fertilizing to harvest, and finally to the dining table, the locavore movement is thriving.
One important tenant to the locavore philosophy is to try to limit the transportation of food for hundreds or thousands of miles to its final destination. The positive result of this is that the numbers of small farms in America, once dwindling, are now on the rebound.
At Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, sustainable practices have yielded an agricultural product that many said couldn’t be raised in Texas.
Sandy Oaks at harvest time, 2014.
Not only is the ranch raising olives – many varieties of them – the quality of the olives, olive products and oil, is exceptional by industry standards. Sandy Oaks is certainly one of the best examples of how attention to best practices in agriculture yields great benefits – even under challenging conditions.
Founded by pioneering olive grower Saundra Winokur in the late 1990s, Sandy Oaks is an ideal place for initiating a new series of dining and learning experiences showcasing products from fruits, vegetables, breads and cheeses to wine grown and produced within a 100-mile radius.
The Locavore Dinner Series, beginning Jan. 16, will be dedicated to the farmers
in this area who will showcase their products and tell their stories. The series of
six dinners will be held outdoors in good weather or in a spacious and
well-appointed indoor dining area in inclement weather.
“In addition to our producing of a food product – olives from our olive orchard — which is very important, we also have a chef’s garden that uses the same organic principles and practices with growing herbs and vegetables,” says Winokur.
“Olives are our major crop, of course, but we are also trying other fruits as well, such as figs and pomegranates. We test what works best in our sandy soil out here, as well as in our microclimate.
“We constantly try to expand on our food presence here and that will eventually include grass-fed beef from animals we are raising now,” Winokur says.
Saundra Winokur, founder of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard.
“In addition to what we practice as farmers, we’ve also created an on-site restaurant that supports local growers. We have a strong belief in farmers markets and support them – we take our products to the Pearl Farmers Market in San Antonio each week.
“We pay tribute in many ways to farmers – and artisans – how hard they do the difficult work of farming here in South Texas. And, this is what the new Locavore Dinner Series 2015 is all about,” says Winokur.
The founder’s philosophy is shared by executive chef Chris Cook and the other enthusiastic staffers at Sandy Oaks.
Cook’s vision of the Sandy Oaks Locavore Dinner Series is to focus as much on education as on the food he and his staff prepare for the meals. Also, noting Winokur’s emphasis on promoting individual farmers, Cook says their goal is to have most, if not all, food served during the series be locally sourced (within a 100-mile radius).
Those who sit down to the table will be able to talk to some of the farmers or vintners who produced the food and wine that is on each menu after listening to them describe their work.
Executive Chef Chris Cook
The fact that the meal will be served at a long, communal table to a limited number of guests is fitting for a farm-to-table style dinner – and also, says Cook, “I’m hoping at the end of the meal everyone who’s attending knows everyone else’s name.”
“It’s important to me that people not only have a good meal, but have also come away knowing more about where their food comes from, how it is produced and why they should eat locally.
“At Sandy Oaks, we hold this philosophy near and dear to our hearts – and we try not to make compromises,” says Cook.
Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard Locavore Dinner Series 2015
This is the first in a series of six dinners. SavorSA will post the dinners before they are scheduled.
January 16, 2015. 6 p.m. reception; 7 p.m. dinner. $80 plus gratuity.
Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, 25195 Elmendorf, Texas. Please purchase tickets online or by calling 210-621-0044. See Sandy Oaks’ website at www.sandyoaks.com for more information and directions to the ranch, which is about 25 minutes’ drive from downtown San Antonio.
Pontotoc Vineyards, www.pontotocvineyard.com
My Father’s Farm, www.myfathersfarm.com
Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, www.sandyoaks.com
Tour of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard with olive oil tasting
Selection of Texas cheeses, pickled seasonal vegetables
Pontotoc Estate Tempranillo
Peeler Farms Chicken Cassoulet, My Father’s Farm beet and spinach
Pontotoc Smoothing Iron
Sandy Oaks Olive Oil-poached Gulf Shrimp, pomegranate and sweet potato
Pontotoc Valley Spring
My Father’s Farm Smoked Turnip and Cilantro Bisque, crispy kale and pickled radish
Pontotoc Spy Rock
Sandy Oaks Olive Oil Cake, pear and vanilla brulée, dried grapefruit
Pontotoc San Fernando Academy